Monday, March 17, 2014

Editorial: Too little progress on commuter rail along South Florida coast

Click title for link to a disappointing editorial from the Palm Beach Post about the status of Tri-Rail's Coastal Link, which will use the FEC railroad right-of way, and All-Aboard Florida. The two are designed to do different things. The Coastal Link will be a local transit service, much like the current Tri-Rail, but due to its more favorable eastern location in terms of population centers, has the potential to serve many more people and revitalize our eastern municipal cousins in south Florida. However, the two seem to be fighting for more room and protections for their service. Here's part of the editorial. It left me wondering if the transit portion really has a good chance of happening.
"No longer just a theoretical goal, a vision for local commuter rail is beginning to take shape in important negotiations, one that will have repercussions across South Florida for decades to come. But there’s been too little progress on the most critical points, and the delays are endangering the entire project.

The all-important tracks that move along the coast through South Florida’s urban core were first put down by Henry Flagler and are still owned by the company he established, Florida East Coast Railway. Tri-Rail needs the company’s permission to run public trains along the tracks — which are much more convenient than the westward CSX tracks that Tri-Rail currently runs on — and it will have to pay for the privilege. But FECR’s parent company, Florida East Coast Industries, has plans of its own."
Then there is this from the Orlando Sentinel. This is an interview with Michael Reininger, who is president and chief development officer of All Aboard Florida. It is the "fast" train that will service Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando on the same right-of-way. According to this account, they are seeing nothing but green lights, heading for a initial operating date late in 2015.

I sincerely hope that these details can be worked out for the future of the entire region.